For parents who are separated or divorced, one of the most contentious issues can be over which parent has primary parenting responsibilities. This can be a difficult issue to resolve when parents live in the same city. However, when one parent wants to move, especially to a different country, the issue must be looked at in a different light. Such moves can have a significant impact on the lives of children. In a recent decision from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, a mother who has primary parenting time was looking to move from Alberta to California. The father, who plans to stay in Alberta, opposed the move.
Mother looks to move from Alberta to California
The parents involved in the matter were married in 2004 and separated in 2007. They had two children, born in 2006 and 2008. The children were 13 and 15 years old at the time of the hearing.
The children currently spend the majority of their time with their mother and have since the separation. They spend alternate weekends with the father, as well as extended periods during the holidays.
The parents have struggled to manage co-parenting without arguments, which they have had in front of the children. The father has made attempts to become the primary caregiver of the children. The children have said that their biggest wish is for their parents to get along, and even though their mother does not get along with her family, the children have a good relationship with their extended family on her side.
The mother moved to Edmonton from Red Deer, where the father lives. She has since remarried and has additional children with her new partner. She told the father that she and her husband would like to move to California. The father objected to this request.
What determines whether a parent can move with the children
The Divorce Act requires that matters such as this be decided in accordance to what is in the best interests of the children. In cases where the parent with primary parenting responsibilities wishes to relocate, it is up to the other parent to show that it is not within the children’s best interest to move.
What are the positions of each of the parents?
The mother told the court that she want to move out of fear that her job within the province’s health sector may be eliminated, or that she may experience a reduction in pay. She also told the court she was concerned that the educational system would also fall victim to cuts, and that California would provide for a better quality of life. While most of the mother’s family is in Alberta, she does have a cousin in California who has an eight-year-old daughter.
However, the court noted that the mother hasn’t presented any concrete evidence of the risks to her job or the children’s education. While her job might eventually be at risk, it is not currently. The same can be said about cuts to education.
The father told the court that he is concerned about seeing less of his children and that their wishes are to remain in Alberta. However, the court found that he did not meet the burden of demonstrating that the mother’s move would be detrimental to the best interests of the children. The court stated that if the onus had been on the mother to show a move was within their best interests, she likely would have failed to meet that burden. However, that is simply not a burden she has to meet.
The court granted the mother permission to move.
The family law team at HMC Lawyers has a track record of successfully negotiating and mediating claims on behalf of our clients. Although we are capable advocates in the courtroom, we know that the best outcome is more often achieved through finding a solution that is mutually beneficial to you and your ex, and in coming to that solution amicably. For advice about child custody and access matters, contact us online or call 1-800-480-3534.